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These apps let you meet a friendly stranger from around the world

Ah, networking: a necessary evil in a society heading towards globalization. When handshakes and small talk are always done with an ulterior motive in mind, trying to make real and genuine connections seems hard. Embarrassing, even.

So what’s the best compromise for when you want to try socializing just for the hell of it but are afraid of an awkward face-to-face situation? Apps, of course. But we’re not talking about dating apps or networking sites. We mean apps that are made with the most wholesome of purposes, like making friends or simply appreciating other people’s company. Yes, they do exist, if you can believe it.

SLOWLY

This app lets you experience the good ol’ days of snail mail by matching you with an international pen pal based on your interests. To keep things (sort of) authentic, the app customizes the time it takes for your letter to reach your pen pal based on your location. For example, a message from Manila takes two days to be delivered to the US, and a message to India takes nine hours. The app also protects your privacy by not allowing anyone to send photos or contact information until a certain amount of letters have been exchanged. Nothing can make you value words more than a three-day revert time, right?

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Tandem

Learning a language has probably been on everyone’s New Year’s resolution several times now, and maybe Tandem can help you finally achieve that pesky goal this year. Tandem is a peer-to-peer language learning—or language exchange, as they call it—app that lets you talk to native speakers of a number of languages for free. The selection process of finding your language buddy is a little dating app-ish, but the motivation is entirely wholesome.

Ablo

Ablo isn’t Google Play’s best app of 2019 for nothing. The messaging app is all about creating new connections without letting language be a barrier, so they create live translations for you to talk away with a newfound friend. This (read: free!) app is probably the next best thing to traveling if you like experiencing culture by getting to know locals.

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Be My Eyes

This app is more about being a good human than it is about socializing, but it’s still a unique way to connect with a stranger. Be My Eyes is a volunteer app for persons with sight where you can help sight-challenged individuals accomplish tasks. It’s usually as simple as pointing out which eye shadow is green or red, or helping them fix the temperature on a thermostat. It’s free, only take a few minutes of your day, and you get to help out a stranger in the process. It’s a pretty good deal, if you ask us.

Art by Renz Mart Reyes

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Giselle Barrientos
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